The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2013

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Break-Out Brands TECHNOMIC'S FAST 50 IDENTIFIES HIGH-VELOCITY SPIRITS, WINE AND BEER BRANDS DOING MORE THAN MAKING GREAT NUMBERS—THEY'RE CREATING STAYING POWER by Donna Hood Crecca I n the constant search for the "next big thing," people in the drinks business often look solely at the volume numbers. But a brand can hit the market and really soar for a year or two, posting big volume, only to peter out when the next "next big thing" comes on the scene. To really get at what's trending, what's shaping the drinks market—essentially, what people are truly embracing at the bar or in the retail store and will likely still be drinking in a few years—requires more than looking at the numbers, although that's a crucial first step. It demands diving into both the DNA of the brand and the broader forces at play in the marketplace. That's the task Technomic undertook to develop its recently released 2013 Fast 50 Brands. The 50 adult beverage brands were identified by analyzing not only volume performance metrics, but also key brand attributes and supplier support programs contributing to the brand's success (see sidebar). The bottom line is that for a spirits, wine or beer brand to achieve sustainable growth in today's hyper-intensive market, it must connect with consumers and the trade in meaningful ways. major wine players also appear on the Fast 50— Constellation with three entries and E&J Gallo with one. Also showing up are DFV, Wente Family Estates, Oyster Bay and newcomer Latitude Beverage, among others. Major players are more present in the beer Fast 50 brand list; AB InBev, MillerCoors, Crown Imports, Heineken USA, Boston Beer and Yuengling all have brands making the cut. The analysis of spirits brands quickly revealed that a number of smaller distilleries and innovators achieved notable volume gains while also forging bonds with consumers and on- and off-premise operators. With volumes less than 10,000 cases in 2012, the Fierce Five are setting themselves up for growth with unique production processes, flavor profiles and solid go-to-market plans. These brands stand to influence their specific categories and the overall spirits market trends. Old and New, Large and Small Almost every Fast 50 spirits brand offers a definitive flavor experience, whether it's the delicate, floral notes of St-Germain, the complexity of Glenfiddich, the citrusy bitter of Aperol or the sweet chocolate of Adult Chocolate Milk. But a brand can (rarely) survive on flavor alone. St-Germain worked its way into the hearts of craft cocktail professionals by courting bartenders in its early years and is now enjoying the distribution and trade partnerships made possible by new parent company Bacardi. That triple play of a unique flavor profile, strong trade engagement and supplier backing sets it up for ongoing expansion. When those attributes were coupled with its double-digit volume growth in 2011 and 2012, it earned Fast 50 status. Celebrity is another element that appears to help propel brands, whether a bona fide celeb is a brand partner or spokesperson, or one is created by the brand itself. But again, that's just one factor in a brand's success. Music stars Fergie and Pitbull are both part of the Voli Vodka story, but The 2013 Fast 50 Brands includes 23 spirits brands, 14 wine brands and 13 beer brands. While many are newer entries—of the 50, 18 debuted in the past three years—several are well-established brands, which makes their recent trajectory all the more impressive. The newest brand, Michelob ULTRA Light Cider debuted in May 2012. Fueled by its on-trend flavor profile, targeted marketing and strong distribution effort by parent company MillerCoors, the brand achieved a meteoric rise to 1 million cases by year's end. The oldest brand, Pabst Blue Ribbon, dates back to 1844, but its recent retro-hip status contributed to a 16.5% volume gain in 2012. Producers and marketers of all shapes and sizes landed brands on the Fast 50. Diageo, Beam, Bacardi and BrownForman appear on the spirits roster, as do Sazerac, Proximo Spirits and William Grant & Sons, along with much smaller entities, such as Pisco Portón LLC and Purity Vodka. The 84  /  the tasting panel  /  april 2013 Defining Factors

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